Audi e-tron SUV first EV to receive IIHS’ highest safety rating

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety gave Audi’s all-new 2019 e-tron SUV its highest award for performing well in crash and other safety testing.

The e-tron is the first battery-electric vehicle with no supplemental gasoline or diesel engine to earn the Top Safety Pick+ award from the institute, Audi said Wednesday.

“The battery pack is housed in a frame with an internal honeycomb structure separating battery cell modules specifically to help dissipate energy,” Audi said in a statement. “The 95 kWh battery pack is also sandwiched between protective covers on both its top and bottom, with coolant running underneath the battery pack to help maintain optimal thermal efficiency.”

To earn the 2019 award, the e-tron received “good” ratings in six “crashworthiness evaluations,” a “superior” rating for front crash prevention, and a “good” headlight rating, IIHS said in a statement.

Track tests conducted by IIHS showed the vehicle “avoided a collision in the 25-mph test and reduced its impact speed by an average of 11 mph in the 12-mph test.”

A front-mounted camera on the e-tron can initiate braking at speeds up to 52 mph for detected pedestrians and bicyclists, and can bring the vehicle to a stop when traveling under 25 mph, Audi said.

The 2019 BMW i3, another EV, was nominated for the Top Safety Pick+ award but it did not qualify due to an “acceptable” rating for head restraints and seats. The i3 received an “advanced” rating “with optional equipment” for front-crash prevention.

For the first time, Tesla has nominated the Model 3 for IIHS Top Safety Pick awards, said Russ Rader, senior vice president of communications for IIHS. The 2019 Model 3 is still undergoing testing and IIHS expects to have results next month, Rader said.